Of course, understand that in a complex society such as ours we need
experts not only in science but also in social science, even policy
making.  My point is that this conflict with a bottom up democracy because
of this very fact that "experts" opinion trumpets ordinary person's. Of
course, we could relay on "good" experts, "people's" experts.  But by its
very nature in a complex society there is a danger of experts taking
effective control.  The same is true of the idea of state and market which
Marx argued are necessary but would have to "wither away" to make room for
a communist society (free association of direct producers).  I think the
state and the market also cannot wither away on a palest with 7 billion
people and an economy whose complexity we can appreciate once we walk into
a Home Depot or Walmart or Safeway.  We need much smaller human society
living on a much simpler technology with minimum comforts that ensure human
and cultural development for all and in harmony with the rest of nature.
In such a society all these 80,000 or more chemicals need not be produced.
Perhaps we will have more musicians and artists, etc. than scientists,
social scientists, no financial analysts, etc.

But that is getting too far from my original question which you very kindly
helped me to understand better.

With gratitude,


On Thu, Nov 13, 2014 at 6:23 AM, Romsted, Laurence <[log in to unmask]
> wrote:

>  Kamran:
>  Bottom up democracies need experts on some things, e.g., toxicology,
> just like top down autocracies like the one we live in.  The experts need
> to be on our side.  They need to be involved doing “science for the people”
> research he says blithely knowing that this is very difficult.
> Toxicologists know about pharmacology.  Chemist’s don’t in general, unless
> that happens to be their area of expertise.  Mine is in chemistry of
> association colloids, also know as soap solutions.  Another story.
>  Larry
>   From: Kamran Nayeri <[log in to unmask]>
> Reply-To: Science for the People Discussion List <
> [log in to unmask]>
> Date: Wednesday, November 12, 2014 at 11:28 PM
> To: "[log in to unmask]" <
> [log in to unmask]>
> Subject: Re: Making Chemicals Green
>   Dear Larry:
>  My apologies for getting back to you with a delay.  It is OPEN
> ENROLLMENT season and I am thinking of changing my University of California
> health plan.  I am sure you and some others on this list have had the
> pleasure of dealing with comparing health plans and deciding which one will
> "fit" your needs and ability to pay.  What a delightful experience is
> health care market--so transparent to all "economic agents."
>  Thank you very much for your considered response to my inquiry.  One
> thing we can take away from it.  This is an opinion piece written for an
> American daily--admittedly with a more sophisticated reader.  If you (a
> chemist) and I (a lay person with advanced degrees and some science
> background) cannot "weigh in" it poses a problem for Science for the
> People--how can we make expert decision making tangible for the public if
> the public should weigh in on policy aspects of the problem at hand?  With
> scientific and technological paste of development and subs-specialization
> would there ever be a bottom-up democratically run society?  Of course, the
> problem is not limited to science--it extends to all kinds of fields of
> knowledge.  Can there be a true democratic society in a highly complex
> society?
>  Best regards,
>  Kamran
> On Mon, Nov 10, 2014 at 6:26 PM, Romsted, Laurence <
> [log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>  Kamran:
>>  I would love to have the expertise to weigh in on this issue—but I
>> don’t.  Expertise in this case means a strong understanding about
>> toxicology of the particular compounds being considered.  I know very
>> little toxicology.  Big dictum in the lab:  Don’t eat anything, including
>> your lunch in the lab.
>>  So, without expertise, I think one of the most interesting things they
>> brought up in the NYT article was evaluating compounds by reactive group
>> class.  Pesticides and herbicides for example have different type of
>> reactive groups on them.  When a new poison is discovered, synthetic
>> chemists synthesize all kinds of structurally similar molecules with the
>> hope of increasing the specificity of the compound for an application
>> (e.g., killing an insect) and make it as non poisonous to people and the
>> environment as possible (in principle).
>>  One problem is that really toxic stuff is toxic to everything because
>> living things to do have resistance.  The chemistry of some toxic molecules
>> are by the type of reactive group, so the chlorine and bromine containing
>> compounds that they were discussing have chlorine and bromine as groups
>> that are easy to displace, ergo, reactive.  DDT.  ethylene dibromide.
>> Ethylene dibromide does not last too long in nature, but DDT lingers.  Non
>> natural, not nice molecules.
>>  Green chemists try to use non poisonous starting materials and water as
>> a solvent (many organic solvents are dangerous themselves) especially
>> chlorinated molecules (e.g., dry cleaning fluids).
>>  But I only know some loose generalizations, not specifics.  I would
>> have to study lots to become an expert.
>>  Larry
>>   From: Kamran Nayeri <[log in to unmask]>
>> Reply-To: Science for the People Discussion List <
>> [log in to unmask]>
>> Date: Monday, November 10, 2014 at 1:59 PM
>> To: "[log in to unmask]" <
>> [log in to unmask]>
>> Subject: Making Chemicals Green
>>   Dear Folks:
>>  I just read this New York Times Op-Ed commentary (see below for a
>> link). It does seem to me that given what we know the authors are pointing
>> out some of the problems and offering good first steps.  However, I am no
>> chemist and like to know what Larry and others think about the subject.
>> Any sources that offer better insight into this problem would be much
>> appreciated.
>>  Best,
>>  Kamran
>>   Making Chemicals Green
>> <>